Copyright 2018 - Severnside Parishes

St Mary's history

The village of Kempsey has a long history, it’s name being derived from the Saxon ‘Kemys’ Eye’’, or the island of Kemys.  Kemys was a Saxon chief, whose island lay between the marshes and the river Severn. 

St Mary’s church was built between the 12th and the 15th centuries.  Archaeological finds place a settlement in the village in the Bronze and Iron Age. The Romans built a fort in Kempsey to protect the river crossing, with probably a vicus outside for Roman families.

Bosul the first Bishop of Worcester, in 680, founded a small religious community in Kempsey. The small wooden church was destroyed by the Danes, as was its replacement in 868. A priest in Kempsey is mentioned in the Domesday Book. During the time of Bishop John (1151-58), the existing church was enlarged to house the Bishop’s household and several Royal visitors.     

The present church developed from an aisles cruciform building of the 12th century. The chancel was rebuilt about 1250, when the east window of five lancets was inserted, one of the finest examples of the Early English style in Worcestershire.

Around 1300 the nave was reconstructed and expanded by the addition of aisles and arcades. A new lofty chancel arch was built in 1863.  In 1315 a chantry was built to the Virgin Mary in the South transept. Closed down by the Puritans it was rededicated in1956. In 1968 the South transept chapel was dedicated to St Andrew.

 

The monument to Sir Edmund Wylde  situated in the chancel is dated 1620.  His widow Dorothy Clark of Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire erected the tomb over his grave.  The tomb was known for a chestnut tree which grew from it. The tree finally died in 1895, aged seventy five.

 

The Bishop of Worcester had a manor in Kempsey from early times and Bishop Leofric died in Kempsey in 1033.  The village seems to have been a favourite seat of the Bishops of Worcester and it was from Kempsey that Simon de Montfort accompanied by Bishop Walter Cantilupe brought Henry III as a prisoner in 1265 before the battle of Evesham.  Henry II and Edward I also appear to have been visitors to the village.

 

St Mary’s boasts a piscina dating from circa 1320 and 14th century glass attributed to the same workshop as similar glass in Ely Cathedral and the Latin Chapel of Oxford Cathedral.

 

In more recent times, Edward Elgar, a resident of the village from 1923 to 1927, is reputed to have practiced on the Nicholson organ – during which time he was made Master of the King’s Muisc.

 

Whilst we are mindful of the history of St Mary’s, we are determined that the story of the building and the Church community is not just a story of the past, but the present and future too!

 

We are a community that celebrates life together and seeks to  find new ways of being constant reminder that it is a living force in the community, proclaiming the life and teaching of Jesus Christ and the unchanging truths of a loving God.

 

 

 

 

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Contact us

Rev. Mark Badger

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

01905 820057

07828 233049

  

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